Hundreds of journalists of 112 Ukraine, NewsOne and ZiK TV channels gathered at the UN Office in Ukraine to show gratitude for the report of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights "Update on the Human Rights Situation in Ukraine," which deemed the closure of the TV channels illegal.
Speaking at the UN office in Ukraine, journalist, TV presenter and publicist Vyacheslav Pikhovshek thanked the department for its honest and objective position. He also noted that for President Volodymyr Zelensky, this report could be an excellent reason to bring 112 Ukraine, NewsOne and ZiK TV channels back on air.
"It seemed to me that it would be more reasonable for President Zelensky and his people to react to this report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights after receiving it. It was an excellent newsworthy development to say, listen, there is a reaction from the High Commissioner for Human Rights, they defend the TV channels and say that they were closed illegally, I will react and, accordingly, lift the sanctions. Zelensky will go to the UN General Assembly in September or take part in a video conference, depends on how it will be organized, so he should prepare for unpleasant questions or open the TV channels," Pikhovshek said.
In her turn, a host of Pershiy Nezalezhniy Yulia Koltak underlined that Ukrainian authorities do not care about international diplomatic institutions, peace or human rights.
"First of all, we express special gratitude to the United Nations, in particular to the High Commissioner for Human Rights, for having paid attention to the situation in our country ... UN was founded in 1945 as a world forum of unprecedented diplomacy, an international diplomatic institution that protects security and peace in the world and human rights in particular. But, as we can see, our government does not care about international diplomatic institutions, about peace, or about human rights," she noted.
She added that 7 articles of the International Bill of Human Rights were breached regarding the journalists of three closed TV channels. In particular, the right to work, right to freedom of opinion and expression.
A presenter of Pershiy Nezalezhniy Rostyslav Sukhachov stressed that the position of the United Nations, which defines the closure of Ukrainian opposition TV channels - 112 Ukraine, NewsOne and ZiK – as the violation of human rights, provides grounds to further continue the struggle and defend the right to speak the truth.
"We would like to thank the UN Office in Ukraine, because it was this organization that provided clear conclusions about what the Ukrainian authorities did in relation to the three independent news TV channels. Earlier, the Reporters Without Borders did the same, calling the decision to close the channels illegal. The International Federation of Journalists and European Federation of Journalists, National Union of Journalists of Ukraine called it an "information bomb." In general, many international organizations criticized the sanctions imposed on us and, as a result, the closure.
The clear wording of the UN Commissioner for Human Rights gives us grounds to continue our struggle and, within the framework of legal proceedings, defend our right to speak the truth, "he said.
As it was reported earlier, on February 2, President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a decree on the imposition of sanctions against 112 Ukraine, NewsOne and ZiK TV channels. According to the decree, which came into force from the moment of publication, the TV channels were sanctioned for five years. This provides for blocking the broadcasting of all three TV channels.
On February 26, journalists of the TV channels illegally closed by President Volodymyr Zelensky united and created a new TV channel – Pershiy Nezalezhniy. The founders of the new media are a group of journalists who previously worked on the channels 112 Ukraine, NewsOne and ZiK. However, only an hour after the start of the broadcast, the authorities illegally disconnected the channel’s broadcasting.
Leading European politicians, international and Ukrainian experts and world media have criticized Zelensky's decree to shut down 112 Ukraine, NewsOne and ZiK TV channels.
For the past months, world media, European politicians and experts published over 37,000 materials dedicated to persecution of independent TV channels by the Ukrainian authorities. At the same time, the report of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights "Update on the Human Rights Situation in Ukraine" states that the decision to close 112 Ukraine, NewsOne and ZiK TV channels contradicts international human rights standards.
Later, the team of 112 Ukraine, NewsOne and ZiK TV channels wrote an open letter to UN Resident & Humanitarian Coordinator Osnat Lubrani and expressed gratitude to the UN for an objective assessment of the unlawful actions of the country's leadership against independent media, which was described in detail in the report of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights "Update on the Human Rights Situation in Ukraine."
“We sincerely believe that this report, as well as the resolution of the European Parliament on the illegal closure of television channels, and the reaction of European parliamentarians will force the Ukrainian authorities, represented by President Volodymyr Zelensky, to stop persecuting independent media that dare to tell the truth about what is happening in the country.
Despite the harsh reprisals against 112 Ukraine, NewsOne and ZiK, illegal disconnection of broadcasting of Pershiy Nezalezhniy TV channel and persecution of our employees, Ukrainians and people from all over the world continue to watch our news and talk shows. A striking example of this is the fact that the number of subscribers of 112 Ukraine YouTube channel has reached 1 million! At this link to our channel, you can make sure that both Ukrainians and the whole world support us.
It is thanks to your and the entire world community's honest and objective position, that we remain the leaders of the local media market. Therefore, we are confident that all the unlawful decisions that were taken by the current government regarding us, all the attempts to introduce censorship and silence the independent media will be revoked by the court.
The report of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights will be included in the evidence base of our lawyers who defend our rights in court and challenge the legality of Ukrainian authorities’ decisions. The consolidated position of lawyers, the reaction of respected international institutions and European politicians will help justice prevail in our country and we will be able to restore broadcasting licenses and continue to convey the truth to our viewers,” the letter reads.